The Rutherford County Board of Education has unanimously approved the Carl D. Perkins Reserve Grant along with a grant for the voluntary pre-kindergarten program worth more than $1.3 million.
Photo by RCS

By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools

The Rutherford County Board of Education has unanimously approved the Carl D. Perkins Reserve Grant along with a grant for the voluntary pre-kindergarten program worth more than $1.3 million.

The latter is used to partially fund the district’s 15 voluntary pre-K programs — 12 of which are in the John Colemon Annex along with classrooms at Walter Hill, Kittrell and Eagleville schools.

All classrooms are currently at full capacity with 20 students each.

There were more than 1,000 applications for the first time in 15 years, said Jamie Hubbard, the district’s early childhood specialist, leaving more students on the waiting list than the 300 in classrooms.

“We have asked the state for extra (teaching) positions every single year … because we know that our demand is much greater than this,” said Dr. Jimmy Sullivan, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, who explained districts receive money based on size and need. “I doubt it will come to fruition, but we ask continually for extra spots.”

The monies afforded by the grant ensure all students have supplies and high-quality materials available to them regardless of which of the 15 VPK classrooms they assigned to.

The application process for the 2021-2022 school year began in April.

“I have been around you enough to know,” Spurlock said while addressing Hubbard during the Aug. 12 board meeting, “that you and the teachers do a fabulous job.”

Hubbard said she and her staff “love it,” and then added, “It gives the kids a boost — a head start — at the beginning like they need.”

The other approved grant will provide equipment and industry certifications for students in high school.

The Perkins grant is a competitive process in RCS was awarded $30,000 for secondary education work for career and technical education equipment and another $20,000 for student industry certifications for the period of July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022.

Director Spurlock is pleased by the continued success of the CTE programs in high school. More than 1,000 industry certifications were earned by students before graduation last school year.

“That’s great,” said Spurlock, who noted the funds are shared throughout the district. “We’ve done real well there.”